Thursday, May 21, 2015

When Should AP Tests Count at College?

AP tests have been around for quite some time, so you'd think there might be some consistency by now about how they're used to allow students to validate college classes.  In Illinois the concerns about consistency are both academic and financial:
A proposed change to state law that has advanced in Springfield could expand high school students' access to college credit through AP testing — but could also have a financial impact on state colleges and universities in Illinois, which could lose out on tuition revenue.
The AP testing program awards students whose knowledge has surpassed the high school level, and can save them time and money in college because they don't have to pay to take the equivalent courses.
But college standards for granting credit for AP tests vary widely. The tests are scored on a 5-point scale, but while some colleges and universities will award credit for scores as low as 2, others require the top score of 5 in certain subjects, according to the College Board, which administers the program. At some schools, the standards vary by subject, while the University of Illinois has different thresholds for different campuses.
To standardize the criteria, lawmakers are considering passing a law to require public universities and colleges in Illinois to give course credit for scores of 3 or better...
Last year in Illinois, nearly 116,000 AP tests were awarded scores of 3 or better, according to a coalition backing the legislation that includes state education groups and the College Board. At an average cost of $426 per credit hour, that would add up to $148 million in savings overall, proponents say.
AP credit could cost colleges and universities lost tuition from those students who can skip over classes, but officials say many AP students simply take other classes instead, to add depth or breadth to their education. Or they can use the lightened course load to improve their chances of graduating on time.

6 comments:

Ellen K said...

I teach two AP courses-AP Studio Art and AP Art History. I work very hard to keep my courses rigorous and on a high level of achievement. It is discouraging to have universities dismiss credit in these courses. Here's a true story. A good friend of mine has a son who is truly gifted. He took AP exams for Chemistry, Physics, Calculus, Spanish, English Literature, World History and Economics. He was number three in his class and scored 5's on all these tests. When he entered the University of Texas Engineering school, the only credit they accepted was his Spanish AP result. Their claim was they wanted to assure that all students had the same foundation. But the student instead found his classes far less rigorous than his high school AP classes. This is not to provide a foundation-instead it is a jobs program for graduate students who often teach those foundation courses. I have had many students tell me they take my class for the portfolio work we do because it can get them into elite art and design programs. I have four students going to Rhode Island School of Design-two on full rides of $160K. I have one girl heading to Parsons in New York-also a full ride. I have several students heading to architecture programs all over the country. Yet if my number of AP tests drops, my program may also end.

Darren said...

You've got to be proud of those results!

momof4 said...


Agree; congrats.

Is there also a possibility that the school wishes to avoid a visible difference between the students in the foundation courses and those who would AP out of them, if that was allowed? Is this possibly one of the effects of chasing "diversity" via TX's 10% admissions rule?

Ellen K said...

Truthfully I am proud of these students as I am of all my students who pursue a high level of skill in anything. But sadly education deals in numbers. Fewer kids taking tests, because they see no reason to take them, will eventually result in some AP programs being eliminated. It is a numbers game.

maxutils said...

I believe it's still true that UC/CSU offer credit for 3 and up --except, for the lower scoresthey give elective credit, not credit for the actual class. I got a 3 on AP physics (somehow) and UCD gave me 10 units of elective credit, t it didn't count anywhere in science -- but that's fine: it all spends the same, plus, had I wanted to (I absolutely didn't) I could have taken Introductory Physics for full credit, and would have had an advantage. Privates, obviously, you can't control -- Which is why I don't believe instructors should require students to take the tests if they are only applying to elite private school who won't give them credit. At a $100 each ($200 if you take Econ) they are not cheap. I alwaysencouraged my students to take the test, and probably 98% did …but the very few students I had who Iknew wouldn't make it? I privately let them know it might be a waste of money. Oddly most of those took it as challenge, and then proved me right...

maxutils said...

A thought? Economically speaking? How about charing the $100 bucks up front, and then, for a score of three or better, te university can either accept the credit, or pay back the student for the cost of the test -- I;m thinking 20% -3, 40%-, 80% -5...